Survey Shows Israelis Disenchanted With Police, Believe Judges Take Bribes

European Social Survey for 2010 shows Israelis least satisfied with relationship with police out of 20 European countries surveyed.

Israelis are the least satisfied with their relationship with the police among the 20 European countries whose data on the matter were released last week by the European Social Survey for 2010.

The survey also showed that only 22 percent of Israelis believe that judges have never taken a bribe, though most think that they take bribes infrequently or very infrequently.

Thirty countries participated in the 2010 survey, which is conducted by the European Science Foundation and other scientific bodies, but data for only 20 countries was released late last week for the survey module entitled "A Trust in Criminal Justice, A Comparative Analysis." A representative sample of 1,700 Israelis were questioned.

Participants were asked how frequently, on a scale of 0 to 10, they believe judges accept bribes, with 10 being very frequently and 0 being never. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, respondents demonstrated relatively high confidence in their judges, with averages of between 1.09 and 1.83. By contrast, in Bulgaria, Russia and the Czech Republic, respondents believe judges accept bribes frequently, with answers of between 5.37 and 6.48.

Israel was ranked ninth of the 20 countries, with an average of 2.69.

Asked to rank the degree to which courts make unbiased judgments, based solely on evidence, with 10 this time being the positive end of the scale, Israel ranked on the bottom third, with an average of 5.98. Respondents in Denmark, Finland and Norway had the most confidence in unbiased judgments, with scores of 7.13 to 7.65, while Bulgaria, Portugal and Russia considered their judges relatively biased (4.56-5.44).

Israelis were also shown to believe economic class played a role in judges' decisions. Asked if a poor person and a rich person, both innocent, were being tried separately for the same crime, who was more likely to be convicted, 61 percent of Israelis responded that the poor person was more likely to be found guilty, while only 35 percent thought the two had an equal chance.

Police contacts proved a sore point for Israelis, who rated their relationship dead last. Swedes were happiest with their relationship with police.

Israelis also showed a low level of trust in the police. Asked to rank their faith on a scale of 0 (no faith) to 9 (complete faith), Israel was ranked third from last, with a score of 4.72, better only than Bulgaria and Russia.